Here We Go: It's March In The Garden
March the first month of spring and our gardens are waking from winter. The spring bulbs are in full bloom and early flowering shrubs and herbaceous are delighting us with their colour and scent. Crocus, Daffodils, Narcissus and Tulips can be complemented with Snakes Head Fritillary, Dog Tooth Violets, Alliums and Anemone Blanda. Leave the bulbs undisturbed after flowering and they will reward us by increasing in numbers and vigour every year. Snowdrops however benefit if lifted and divided while in leaf to successfully increase their numbers.
As the weather gets warmer it is time to plant summer and autumn flowering bulbs and tubers like Dahlia, Gladioli and Lilies. These are best planted in pots and kept in a light frost free place to start growing until all risk of frost has gone before planting in the garden. They are great showy garden plants that like sunny sheltered places. Lilies look fantastic in summer borders many are tall and often scented. They also make good patio plants in pots.
The early flowering herbaceous Pulmonaria and Brunnera associate well with spring flowering bulbs as does the perennial Wallflower Erysium and Euphorbia. We should not forget the mini perennials that we also call Alpines. Many are traditional cottage garden plants like Aubretia, Sedums and Armeria but a good addition is the perennial Viola Columbine, V. Etaine and V. Molly Sanderson. They flower their hearts out from March until November and are very easy to grow in the garden and in tubs.
It is the ideal time to add or completely replant borders with Shrubs Roses Climbers and Herbaceous plants. It allows the plants to establish before the drier summer weather when regular watering is vital. New varieties of Shrub roses look great in mixed borders and will flower from June to September. If you are adding new permanent plants think about their value to wildlife as well as the size structure and form. Buddleia and Hebes are great for butterflies while Philadelphus and Lavender are loved by bees. Evergreens make great bird habitat especially in winter if planted against a wall or fence. Do not collect the leaves shed by deciduous plants in autumn, these will provide cover for many Insects Newts and Frogs.
March is a suitable time to prune many types of shrubs. Cornus the Dogwood that have given us brightly coloured lime green, cream, orange or bright red bare stems during the winter months should be cut back to almost ground level now so that we get another crop of stems with the brightly coloured bark next winter. Use the cut stems to support tall herbaceous plants.
In March shrubs that are grown permanently in pots should have the top 30cms of soil removed and replaced with fresh compost and a slow release general or ericaceous feed and then coloured chippings placed on top to reduce water loss in hot weather.
Planting trees is a brilliant way for reducing our carbon footprint. There is a tree for every garden no matter how large or small. Some can even grow in large pots and now is the ideal time to plant. It can be ornamental, evergreen, topiary or a fruit tree. Come and talk to Terry or Stewart who are very happy to advise you the best variety to grow depending on your soil and position.
With the higher light levels the Lawn should now start growing. When there is a dry period of a few days without overnight frosts give the grass a trim with the mower blades set high. It will probably still be too cool for grass seed to germinate but it is fine to lay turf. If you are repairing damaged areas dig a shallow area to accommodate the new turf. Sprinkle the soil with Growmore or Fish Blood and Bone, lay the turf and tread to firm. Keep watered. Treat any weeds with a lawn weed killer and feed the entire lawn with a good lawn feed to improve the root structure which helps the grass to grow stronger absorbing more water and resisting disease.